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CHAIRMAN’S REPORT July 12, 2014
By Lloyd Criss
Posted on July 11, 2014 | Print
AUSTIN – The political scuffle over Greg Abbott’s ruling to keep chemical facility information secret is starting to bleed into local races, as the Democrat aiming to replace state Rep. Craig Eiland seeks to tie her Republican opponent to the increasingly heated debate.
“Texas families have a right to know about potentially dangerous chemicals that could harm their families,” said Susan Criss, a Democratic district judge running for Eiland’s seat. “Does Wayne Faircloth feel the same way?”
Calls to Faircloth’s wife, Susan, also his treasurer, were not immediately returned Friday.
Faircloth, the Republican, faces Criss in the November general election for Eiland’s seat, which encompasses Chambers and much of Galveston counties.
“Having presided over countless cases relating to the BP plant explosion in 2005, I have seen first hand the damage that safety violations in facilities containing explosive materials can cause,” added Criss, who went onto urge Faircloth to join her in calling for Abbott to overturn his May ruling.
The decision said the Texas Department of State Health Services could not release information on chemical facilities because it violated state homeland security laws. Statewide information had previously been available to the public and press under state and federal Community Right-to-Know laws for 30 years. Abbott instead said the public could request chemical inventory reports from the individual facilities, telling them to “drive around” to locate potential chemical stockpiles.
But the information proved not as easy to acquire as Abbott said. Some facilities and public denied the Houston Chronicle’s public records requests, citing the attorney general ruling and security concerns.
Wendy Davis, Abbott’s Democratic challenger for governor, seized on his comments, saying the public deserved to know what hazardous chemicals potentially sat in their backyards. She has since launched a seven-city tour blasting Abbott’s ruling.
Representatives for the Abbott campaign have repeatedly said the May ruling was not the attorney general’s personal decision, simply a ruling based on Texas law.
Lloyd Criss, Chair
Galveston County Democratic Party
La Marque, TX 77568
(409) 938-7642b. Join us on Facebook for Galveston County Information at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/117670801602495/
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Last Updated (Sat. May 23, 2014.5:00pm)